Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's still snowing!

We woke to cloudy skies, surprising considering how clear it was last night. Then between 9 a.m. and 11 or so, there were some fat flakes falling. The clouds were thin, however, I was able to see faint blue patches here and there. By 11:30 there were some large openings of blue to the east and north east. Above is Penguin early. You may not be able to see the flakes against the structure in the bottom left, but notice the snow curl off the roof. That will give you an indication of how the temperature has been combined with the damp slippery snow of recent days.

Talking to family in the mid part of the country, they are always amazed that it is snowing already. Even though some of the family we talk to on a weekly basis, they have been told it started snowing in October, they seem to forget. As with any subject you know well, like the weather here, you forget that others don’t. We are so caught up in the subject and see it day-to-day we just think everyone knows the subject like us. That is one reason for putting this little ditty on-line. I want to help visitors and friends from Anchorage get a sense of the difference just a 45 minute drive makes. And a bunch of huge mountains too!

I can see the outline of Max’s better this morning than the past few. The top is looking good as you could see from Alyeska’s Top of 6 webcam. The middle is so-so, I still see lots of alder. But the snow cannons were going full last night and are on again today. I heard the howitzers go off, don’t know if they are still training or mitigating. Either way its a good thing. 

Today we are helping Girdwood Fire and Rescue conduct EMT I testing. My husband is a proctor and I will play victim, again. Yes, I did it for last year’s class and we helped the Whittier EMT program, so I have developed a great victim acting skill set. The Fire Department has one of my favorite snow gauges, the picnic table out front, check it out.

Another favorite site in the winter is the Girdwood Playground. The castle motif plays off well against the mountains. Here are some spires and Raggedtop.

Looking down Glacier Creek toward the Turnagain and Mount Alpenglow in the distance. Still pretty cloudy in that direction. Maybe we will get some more snow and not be laden with 4 inches of hoar frost today.....currently it is 20°

At 4 pm it started to lightly snow again. Just goes to show, it is really hard to predict the weather around these mountains and in this valley. Everyone is happy for the snow, and the temperature is great 19-20° making the flakes nice and dry. Good temperature to keep the snow cannons going as well. Keep up with the resort's mountain report to be sure opening day will be in fine condition. The timing wasn't so great on this post, I am trying to work on getting it on in the morning....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Clouds to the right of me Sun to the Left of me

Feels like the snow event for this week is over. The cloud ceiling is high–well was at 9 am but– at 11 I see it settling down on Penguin. I would be glad to have fog stick around as just a while ago there was a slight breeze. 

The wind is knocking clumps of snow off the trees. Not light flakes, but wet stuck together blobs. 

Howitzer training is going on at the resort today. I hope they shake loose some snow that is sitting on that huge hoar frost layer. Everyone is hoping for the November 21 opening date!

Leaving Girdwood at 12:30, sun was visible at the Tesoro. Forecasts show clear tonight and Saturday. I expect to investigate the frost again soon. 

Returning to Girdwood at 9pm tonight, the Seward highway was nice and clear. However, it sure would be nice if the DOT put some more reflectors along the road, especially at curves. I know its a scenic highway, so that will be a challenge. I also know there are some creative people in the world and someone could devise a reflector that does not impede on the daytime scenic view....maybe that will be me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This is what we like to see in Girdwood

Snow on everything and a cloud bank indication more snow. Here is a nice view toward town, Penguin Ridge on the left. Nice, because everything is covered in snow!!! They have been small wettish flakes however, the temperature has been between 32 and 34, oh so close. At night it did stay around 28.

Walking to work today, the snow was that mushy kind, really slid under the feet making walking weird. The temperature this morning was 30. I was afraid of it warming up and turning to sleet but that did not happen. Between 10 a and noon, there was a great snow shower and flakes were larger than yesterday. That was a good sight.

By 6pm, the snow had stopped, the precipitation was small wet spittle. Wet enough that it did not blow off the windshield. 

The Weather and Snowpack presentation was good at the Glacier Ranger Station. Wendy Wagner presented slides  on how to do column tests and what the snow density ratings mean. F- fist, 4-four fingers, 1-one finger, P-pencil, K-knife. So, before you go back country skiing or snowmachining, check the CNFAIC website for avalanche warnings, great pictures of avalanches, and snow column tests. For good detailed information, check the Observations. There are always good descriptions of snow pack, snow events from specific locations that can help you make an informed decision. There was helpful input from locals of situations to look out for. Jim from Girdwood Ski and Cyclery gave the typical Girdwood response to questions of prediction for the season “it always seems to work itself out into good snow” kind of paraphrased. He also gave this tip: don’t park under trees laden with snow, he has seen big dumps crush car tops! This is part of a series on avalanche safety presented by the forest service and Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

There was a small earthquake or tremor felt in Girdwood early this morning. I hope that shook loose some of that snow on top of the unstable hoar for those back country folks. 

Here is a shot of my driveway tonight, you can see some depth in the tire tracks. Mostly,  its damp, 30° (yikes) but holding. The resort is making snow, the fog is so dense, you cannot even see the mountain lights until you are right up close to the T. Good to see the lights on, right?

The other reason I want to show this picture, that is my husband just returning with Girdwood Fire and Rescue. There was a single car roll-over accident at mile 92.5 of the Seward highway last night. The car was a Range Rover and there were two passengers. The car flipped and landed next to the railroad tracks. The observation was, the road looked clear but never believe it now! There will always be a layer of ice right on the surface pavement. And no matter what kind of vehicle you have, don’t give the vehicle more credit that it has against weather! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A solid snow piling up

It started snowing last night at about 11pm. This morning there is 4 inches of snow on the ground and it is still snowing. The DOT road scraper has gone down Alyeska Highway three times by 11am. Its beautiful and white outside again! The snow always brightens the landscape and feels so clean. Well, except for the sides of the road, thank many thanks to the DOT. Here is the view toward Penguin from the “T”.

Headed into Anchorage today so I will surely check the DOT website 511 before departing. I am so happy to see the snow!

The temperature is holding at 32° and I am in one of the colder spots in town, its always colder at the T in Girdwood than at the Seward Highway. Not the coldest, the Hotel and the airstrip can be colder.

Max’s is filling up nicely, here is a view at 10am.

Noon and its still snowing, flakes alternate between small and medium. No fat ones yet. 

One week until opening day on the ski slopes, hope the snow keeps piling up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Damp Air

Ragged top is visible today, this morning anyway. It can just be seen in this 8:30 am photo. The fog has lifted leaving small crystals tightly knit to the surface snow. On checking the weather cams, there are high clouds today and indeed the forecast is for snow tonight and 100% chance of snow tomorrow. Max’s is seen below, sun blowing out the white in the cloud over the mountains. 

Last night there was a good aurora forecast, I wonder if anyone saw it in south central?

I walked up to the Daylodge just after 1pm. The moisture in the air was overwhelming, the dampness chilling my insides as quick as the out. It is interesting that the moisture particles can be so spread apart and remain suspended, it really is so damp there should be droplets forming. Its 30° and relative humidity is 95%.

The surface snow is crispy from the morning’s frost. The snow in the roadway intersections is brown and slushy. Walking is precarious without fresh layers of snow, small steps or cleats are advised. Walking on the trail is easier, there is always an edge to grip your feet in the snow. 

The Resort still has the snow cannons off, it concerns me for about 2 seconds before I decide not to care, its not my business. This view up Glacier Creek toward Raven Glacier shows what I think is a lack of nice snow, but it is only November. 

Thursday the 15th at 7pm there is a presentation at the Glacier Ranger Station in Girdwood: Mountain Weather and Snowpack. Anyone planning on skiing back country is advised to attend.

The temperature holds at 31° into the night.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Upward past the Fog

We woke this morning to clear skies, really, I swear! Its always nice to see the clear sky because I know when it is foggy, it just foggy over us! I know this as a fact after days of viewing the top of Alyeska weather cam, its sunny above about 500 feet. That reality gets really frustrating, often. Wish I had a picture of the sun, anyway, here’s the fog first toward “downtown”, second is lack of view of Max’s. Look carefully at the first photo, you can see the blue hiding behind the cloud.

Also at 8:30 am it was 32° I know it did not freeze last night because my husband and I could hear water dripping from one roof to the eave over our door. One slow drip at a time. Yet by time I snapped the fog, the temperature had dropped to 29° as evidenced by the ice on the tree twigs now as opposed to clear water. That phenomenon is not unusual, commonly the coldest part of the day is just before sunrise almost everywhere, especially valleys. With the fog over us now, I expect the temperature to remain steady. 

A walk down to the Grind and the Merch is an exercise not only literally but in frustration. At 3pm I snapped this photo of the mountains trying to work with the sun to bust out of the fog. 

The snow is quite crunchy on top from the brief freeze this morning. For those driving in, the road is really clear since the DOT scraped several times yesterday. If you are keeping up with the ski slope status, the snow makers have been off for the past couple of days. I guess since it was sleeting Friday and just above freezing on Saturday. I will not attempt to cover the resort’s status as you can check it on their website. Additionally, don’t forget the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information website. Scroll down to the terrain map and hover your mouse over the red arrows. There are some fabulous weather cams around the area. 

Signing off at 5pm, temperature foggy and 31°